An update on this story. The unresolved question: Would, er, Mr. Rhymes apologize so readily for appropriating symbols of any other religion or culture, or offending sensibilities?
“US rap artist apologises to Arabs over song,” by Tom Spender for The National, December 10 (thanks to L.E.):
DUBAI // The American rap star Busta Rhymes has reportedly apologised to Arabs and Muslims after one of his songs was criticised at home and abroad, including by a Dubai-based rapper who said it was demeaning.
UAE-born Yassin Alsalman, who records under the name Narcicyst, said the artist called him to explain that he did not mean to offend with his single Arab Money.
The video for the song shows Rhymes rapping about the Burj Dubai hotel, depicts him gambling with the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and posing in front of expensive cars.
The track can no longer be heard on radio stations or bought in shops, but can still be downloaded online. Alsalman said Rhymes said the track would also be removed from the internet.
After hearing the song, Alsalman felt compelled to record his own song, The Real Arab Money, in response. He posted it on the internet and was astonished to receive a phone call from Rhymes.
“He pulled the track and the remix that came out with it after the negative feedback going on in the Arab and Muslim community,” said Alsalman, 26. “He called me personally and said he wanted to tell the Arab and Muslim community that he apologised. He said he was grateful for their reaction and he would take whatever steps were required to clarify the situation.
“What he did was an extremely commendable act as a man. He said that he would have felt the same reaction if he thought someone was disrespecting his culture as an African American. He said he wanted to respect Arab culture because it deserves appreciation and so he was pulling his song.”
The song has also been controversial in the UK, where this month a DJ was suspended from Galaxy Radio for playing Arab Money after the station received complaints. “Galaxy would like to apologise to all our listeners for the airing of this song. It was never Galaxy”s intent to offend its listeners and never will be,” the company said.
Alsalman said the portrayal of Arabs in the song reflected deeper cultural misunderstandings between the US and the Middle East.
“It was the cultural consultancy of the song that was a problem, if you will,” he said. […]